For Happiness

Happiness is a choice. A conscious, intentional decision to feel good. I started this year with a clean slate. Freshly out of school, a bunch of great friendships – old and new – and a positive disposition. Something that I had not chosen to undertake throughout my years in high school. This new outlook on life was refreshing. I walked the world with motivation, purpose, and understanding. I was not drowning in unwanted thoughts and comparisons – I had decided to be unequivocally and unapologetically happy.

It was only when I neglected this conscious choice that my disposition began to deteriorate. The thing about most decisions is that they require not only effort, but consistent effort. They require continuous attention because without this, a minor setback becomes a slippery slope.

I stopped monitoring my decision. Yes, it had become second nature when life was running smoothly but when life presented me with something a little tougher, I still had to consciously make a decision to deal with it in such a way that promoted growth, learning, and optimism. And I did a pretty good job of this for the most part.

I can’t recall the exact moment I became complacent. But I walked back over the bridge to begin my journey home from uni today and I saw some young, twenty-something year old guy riding a tiny-arse skateboard, I heard two girls chatting loudly in front of me and I noticed an older man running with a massive sports jacket on and I judged the absolute crap out of all these people. And that is when I realised just how complacent I had become.

I tried to remember when I had begun opting for a grimace and upturned nose over the smile I used to walk around with. I was struck with the sudden and complete acceptance of the truth that happy people make other people happy. I had already realised that I had become overly judgemental of myself, but I hadn’t realised how this translated to the way I treated the world. I allowed my own self-criticism to translate to criticism to those around me; I allowed myself to view everyone as competition. The resounding belief that others were closer to perfection than myself had morphed into my own need to seek out their flaws.

I walked with this revelation on my mind and immediately disregarded it when I arrived at home and a good friend did something extremely characteristic of them – something I had mentioned upsets me. Something really, really small, insignificant, and in no way detrimental to their character. I was filled with bitterness and I began listing in my head all the things that this person had done that I considered selfish and inconsiderate and I had a massive cry about it. And then my revelation came back into my mind.

Why had I become so freaking sensitive to the sins of others? I had absolutely no understanding or empathy for anyone around me. I was irritable and relentless, selfish and unaccepting. I had spent all this time expecting other people to change to make me happier, when I had refused to choose happiness for myself. I had denied responsibility for my own life and therefore, had taken away my own ability to change it.

So, here’s to another step in my journey to getting back on track. To reclaiming the motivation to become the person I want to be, and not settle for what is easy. To setting intentions to spread positive energy, rather than expecting others to go above and beyond for me, with nothing in return. To letting go of carelessness towards others and lack of respect for their decisions, feelings, and the reasons behind them. To choosing happiness and taking on the effort that it requires, despite knowing I have failed before.

Enjoying the Journey

One of the most important changes I made to my life in order to become more optimistic, was to learn to enjoy the journey. I have always been an extremely goal-orientated individual, with my eyes always on the destination. Although this quality is one of the better components of my personality, it doesn’t allow for taking in each and every day. I struggle to live in the moment; I am always too worried about the future or too excited that I forget to be truly present in my everyday life.


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It took me until the last month of school to recognise this and attempt to change my perspective. When I thought about my primary school and middle school years I had so many fun and hardworking memories to reflect on. These years presented the foundations for me to become who I am today. However, when I looked at my senior school years, all I could recall was thinking about graduation and life after school. And as much as it is great to be excited about the future, it did detract from the enjoyment of this vital step in my education journey.

So, with this realisation in mind, I set out to make the last few weeks of school about being at school – not about reaching the end. This was the first time I actively employed the skill reframing in my everyday life. I didn’t realise just how pessimistically I viewed even the tiniest aspects of my life until I attempted to change my thought process. Simple things like complaining about the number of staircases I had to climb to get to most of my classes and waiting in a seemingly ridiculously long line to the bathroom at the end of lunchtime, seemed to dominate my mind for most of the day. But why? As soon as I began looking at it from an alternative perspective, these issues seemed so unbelievably miniscule. Climbing the staircases not only improved my physical health, but the fact that I even had a multi-story school building equipped with the necessary facilities and teachers willing to share their knowledge, never even crossed my mind. I realised I rarely took the opportunity to appreciate what I actually have. Especially when you consider those less fortunate, my lack of gratitude was simply put, completely out of line.

Once I continued with my reframing, my disposition changed for the better. I was so much happier and even a mediocre day seemed like one of the best days of my life. I allowed myself a few moments to regret the last few years I had wasted being unsatisfied, and then moved on. This time around, I had learnt my lesson too late. But the journey wasn’t over. There was university, a career (whatever that may be), starting a family, and so many more to look forward to and enjoy. And with that notion in mind, I set on my tertiary studies with determination and an aim to get as much out of it as possible. I didn’t want to settle for scraping through, when I knew that with effort, I could do much better. I made the conscious decision to enjoy the journey and not just get through on the bare minimum in order to attain my qualifications at the end.

I am only a semester in at this point, but my love for university and my commitment to my resolution remains strong. I attend all my lectures and rarely procrastinate, even though this has required me to reduce my hours of paid-work. By fully immersing myself in what I am learning, I have grown so much and become increasingly inspired. I have found that studying is much easier as I crave the knowledge, not just the success of a good grade. I was lucky in that I was able to choose exactly what I wanted to do at university, and what I chose was something I was tremendously passionate about. It makes my 8am lectures that much easier to get out of bed for.

I take the time to focus my energy on enjoying the small aspects of the journey. As I walk across the bridge over the Brisbane River from the train station every day, I push myself to appreciate the sun on the water and the boats that line Kangaroo Point. I indulge in a coffee from the stand on the bridge, and although this expense could be considered unnecessary, it gives me an opportunity to stop before my day begins and centre myself. Without realising it, I have conditioned myself to feel overwhelmingly excited when I see the big university sign as I draw closer each morning.

It has become a part of my nature to enjoy the little things and to want to strive for my best, because I want to live in an atmosphere of growth. And through growth – happiness. I want to look back on the four years of my degree and think, I got so much more out of this than a piece of paper. Because ultimately, the journey is more important than the destination and the skills, mates, and morals you develop along the way will stick with you forever.


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